inov 8 X-TALON 210 Shoe Review

The inov 8 X-TALON range for 2018 has had a reworking. Always a tricky subject, especially with such a classic shoe in the inov 8 line-up. But as history shows, this shoe is 10-years old and has had many incarnations.

So, what is different for 2018?

Well, first and foremost, STICKY GRIP. This new outsole compound is inov 8’s new secret weapon for holding a runner on the ground when conditions are challenging, in particular, wet and slippery rocks.

The second key aspect is the reworking of the shoes upper. Now depending which X-TALON you have, the upper will be different. For example, I have just reviewed the X-TALON 230 HERE and the upper on the 230 is a world away from the upper on the 210.

So, here goes!

THE SHOE

Orange! Whoa, yep, you are going to be seen coming in these babies on your first outing. I strongly suggest, going in the garden and rubbing them in the soil before venturing out. I wore sunglasses for the first day of testing. I joke obviously, but the 210 is a bright shoe, one could easily be put off by the colour, but let’s face it, if you are using the shoe in the place it is intended for, they are only bright for one outing!

In comparison to the X-TALON 230 (here) the 210 appears super light and airy – funny as there is only 20g difference between the shoes. The upper is light, very breathable and has the now traditional inov 8 overlays that gives the upper its structure. They are light and fast and gladly they have a gusseted tongue to give a slipper like feel. They feel very different to the 230’s – I would go as far to say that they are not comparable. They are completely two different shoes. So, whereas in the past you may have two pairs of X-Talon’s with different drops and have a similar feel between the two, now that is not the case. So, if you fancy 230’s with more cushioning, 6mm drop and a tough upper, make sure you try them first.

The 210 is 1 arrow, so, 3mm drop. Fit is scaled as 2, so, they are at the narrow end of inov 8’s fit gauge but not as narrow as the 230’s which scale as 1. Have to say, I prefer the fit of the 2.

The outsole, like the 230’s, is STICKY GRIP with classic 8mm lugs – a winning combo!

Cushioning is pretty minimal with 6mm at the front and 9mm at the rear.

This is a shoe that has racing written all over it.

MORE DETAIL

The fit is slipper like and the 2-grade fit is pretty sweet allowing a little room for toe splay but not at the loss of control or precision when running. Of course, fit is all relative and based on an individual’s foot. However, I keep saying this, if you want a shoe for fast and technical running, it can’t be sloppy. It must fit and hold the foot – the 210’s does this perfectly.

The upper is very soft and flexible. The fit and security all comes from the overlays and in particular the 5 that lead to the lace eyelets.

The overlay extends round to the front of the shoe and the outsole extends up to provide a little toe protection. Toe protection is minimal, especially when one compares to the 230’s!

The upper is very breathable and there is method to this! inov 8 are recommending this shoe for the obvious fell, mountain, trail, obstacle course running but with the new addition of swim/run – a fast growing sport! Cleverly, the upper does not absorb or retain water and it has been Designed to actively encourage water (or sweat even) to escape. Obviously, this is key for swim/run but I can also see this being a great feature for any races or courses where one may be in and out of water. For example, the 210 would be a great shoe for the multi-stage race in Costa Rica, The Coastal Challenge – here participants on certain stages are in and out of water all the time. The heal box is snug, comfortable, holds the foot perfectly and caused no issues .

The outsole is a key feature of the 210 just as in the 230. STICKY GRIP is the new secret weapon. Basically, it’s a new compound of outsole that is softer and stickier than previous inov 8 outsoles. In mud, on trails, on fells etc there is little noticeable difference as the 8mm lugs do the job they have all done. What is noticeable is the additional grip on rock, particularly when wet. This is a great USP and maybe even more so for this shoe with a possible swim/run audience. 

IN USE

Unlike the 230, I slipped the 210 on and they immediately felt great – slipper like and definitely no breaking in required. I wore them around my home and soon didn’t notice them.

The 2 fit is as mentioned is narrow/ precision but not super narrow and I really liked the feel – this was helped by the soft upper and the gusseted tongue. The shoes upper combination works really well and once I adjusted the laces to personal feel and preference, I just knew that I was going to be happy in them.

With minimal cushioning and 3mm drop, this is not a shoe for everyone, or maybe I should clarify and say, that for some people, it is a shoe they should use sparingly. It’s a fast and light shoe designed for an efficient runner. The shoe is very flexible and just urges you to push on with the META FLEX on the outsole really helping with the propulsive phase.

Although cushioning is relatively minimal, the EVA FUSION works really well and providing excellent comfort. The shoes are so low to the ground, they are a little like taking a F1 car out for a drive. Hoka One One shoes for example would be a double decker bus.

A mile of road had me clipping along, right on my toes and then I suddenly realized I didn’t have the fitness for the pace the shoes made me want to run. So, racers out there are going to love this feel! On a muddy tow path, the 8mm studs gripped as they have always done and I had 100% confidence, the low-drop adding to that secure feel.

The 210 certainly gets you on your toes. I purposely tried to run slower and heal strike to get a feel of how the shoe would respond – it just felt all wrong. So, I speeded back up and got back on my toes.

On a wet grassy bank, the outsole gripped away and in the really thick mud that followed, I was over my ankles with soft, wet, brown stuff. Here I noticed two things, the 8mm lugs were trying to gain purchase in the harder ground below, at times they did, at times they didn’t – that is the nature of thick mud. One thing is for sure, in most other shoes I would have hit the deck! The second thing I noticed was how the shoes filled with mud but noticeably on the harder trail that followed, the shoes squelched and squelched, and I could see the mud escape from the uppers! I normally miss a small river on my run, yes, to avoid getting my feet wet, but I had to test the swim/ run capability. Apart from the water being bloody freezing, the shoes and uppers worked a treat. I was really impressed to see the water escape as I ran down the follow-on trails.

Wet rocks have been a hit and miss affair with inov 8 in the past but I can confirm, just as I found in the 230’s (here) that the new STICKY GRIP is a huge step forward for the inov 8 outsole. It is definitely getting more purchase and thus providing more security which in turn allows one the confidence to run at speed.

Most of my runs in the 210 have been between 5-12 miles. I haven’t gone past 100 minutes in any one run and in all honesty, for me, I would probably say 2-hours would be the max I would want to run in such a light, minimal and low-drop shoe. But that is me! My preferred drop is 6 or 8mm and most scenarios I prefer a little more cushioning. A light, fast and efficient runner I am sure could run longer in them!

Nearly all my runs have 1 mile of road at the start and end. With 108 miles in the 210 I can see the impact of the road sections, but it is not worrying. In all honesty, the 210 should only be used off-road and if I could, that is what I would do. The reality for most of us though is that a little road will always appear in our runs, so it is good to get a feel of the durability of the new STICKY GRIP. It’s still too early to say what that life is.

With extensive experience in Skyrunning races, I see the 210 being a perfect match for VK’s and SKY races (typically 20-30km) – in particular, the STICKY GRIP outsole would be most welcome on the technical, rocky and often wet ridges that can be encountered say in the Dolomites or the Alps.

CONCLUSION

The 210 is a winning shoe for efficient runners who want to be low to the ground feeling the terrain as though running barefoot without the discomfort. The combination of the light upper, precision fit and new sticky outsole makes them really stand out as a shoe distance racing shoe for fell, mountain and OC races. The upper certainly works really well at expelling water, so, if swim/run is your thing, they will be worth a look.

At 3mm drop and minimal cushioning, the 210 is definitely not for everyone. Certainly, I could not run in a shoe like this every day, but I think it’s fair to say that inov 8 don’t intent that to be the case. By way of clarity, the 210’s are a 2-seater car that sits in the garage, only to be used every now and again, whereas normally every day you drive around, say in a Ford Focus. Maybe the X-Talon 230’s are the Ford Focus and the X-Talon 210 is the Porsche 911?

Lakes In A Day 2016 Preview

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“This is a long run in wild terrain. If you are at the start line wearing a t-shirt and shorts carrying nothing but a bum bag, expect us to be asking a few questions. If the weather is bad, then pack extra kit. This event is not like many other ultras in the UK calendar – it goes up on to the high fells and STAYS up there so don’t take any chances.”

The ‘Lakes in a Day’ is a point-to-point race that starts in the northern Lakeland town of Caldbeck. The route heads directly south all the way to Cartmel passing through four major points; Threlkeld, Ambleside, Finisthwaite (a small hamlet) and then Newby Bridge before the finish in Cartmel.

It’s a race that requires endurance, technical skill and the ability to navigate – this is not a race with a marked route! Maps for the race are provided with a very clearly defined route which must be adhered to, the only exception being in the early stages when the runners leave Nether Row and head to the summit of Blencathara.

Unlike many ‘true’ navigation events, the use of a GPS is allowed and a GPX route is provided for runners in advance so that they can download it.

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The route is almost split into two halves. The tough and challenging terrain of the high fells in the early stages takes in some classic Lakeland terrain such as Blencathra, Hall’s Fell, Helvellyn and Grizedale Tarn before heading up Fairfield and dropping down to Ambleside.

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After Ambleside, there is a transition into the lowland fells from Ambleside. The second half of the race is all about survival after the tough opening miles.

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The route heads to the west of Windermere and heads down in an almost straight line passing through Newby Bridge an on to Cartmel.

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Kim Collison was the champion in 2015 and his time obliterated the old course record, his time of 9:12:07 won him £500 which is also on offer in 2016 for the fleet of foot!. Post race he said, ‘It was one of those days. I felt really good and the conditions were perfect. I just made the most of it!’

Helen Leigh was equally impressive in 2015 and it turned out an expensive day for race director James Thurlow – Helen also set a course record 11:00:10 to bag £500.

The 2016 line-up can be viewed here and the race website is available here for any last minute information. The race route is available to view and download here and on race day, it is possible to follow live by tacker here.

Race start is 0800 Saturday 8th October.

Over 400 runners will toe the line for an epic, if not lengthy and challenging day in the Lakeland mountains and fells.

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TRAIL TALON 250 and TRAIL TALON 275 by inov-8 – SHOE REVIEW

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The Race Ultra when first released by inov-8 turned heads. It was certainly a departure for the brand who had built a history and reputation for out-and-out fell running shoes. For the brand to release a shoe that appealed specifically to the ‘ultra’ market was an interesting move.

I have to say, the first incarnation of the shoe was pleasing to look at and although it gained rave reviews, I didn’t like it. It felt sloppy, lacked feel and in all honesty, it was a shoe I didn’t want to use.

The second incarnation was a huge improvement and it has become a regular shoe for me when running long on flat, relatively un-technical and non-muddy trail. It was a shoe that proved hugely popular at races such as Marathon des Sables for example and the combination of two options, 4mm and 8mm drop; the Race Ultra suddenly became a really popular shoe.

I was therefore somewhat surprised when inov-8 told me that the Race Ultra 270 (4mm drop) and 290 (8mm drop) are no longer in the range as of AW16. Really?

I have had many emails from runners in the community expressing a concern about this. Yes, the Race Ultra really has become ‘that’ popular and as such, many are asking, but what shoe an I know going to wear?

Take a breath, take out your credit card and go and order yourself a pair of TRAIL TALON 275 (8mm drop) or TRAIL TALON 250 (4mm drop).

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Yes, folks, stop worrying, the new TRAIL TALON is all that the Race Ultra was and so much more.

I could actually stop the review there as I have very little negatives to say about the shoes. Yes, both really are that good. But I know you have a need for more information so here goes.

In brief, the TRAIL TALON offering in either 275 or 250 versions directly relates to the 270 or 290 versions of the RACE ULTRA. So first off, think about if you need or prefer 4mm or 8mm drop shoes (or both). The plus side from the off, is the two new TRAIL TALONS are offering weight savings over the previous models: 15g +/- for the 8mm drop and 20g +/- for the 4mm drop. For reference, inov-8 always refers to the weight of the shoe in the name, so, a TRAIL TALON 250 will weight 250g+/- in a standard UK8.

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Both the TRAIL TALON 275 and 250 shoes use the same standard fit last as the RACE ULTRA but they both offer improved grip with deeper cleats and better cleat configuration. It’s a marginal improvement and don’t start to think that the new shoe will now handle more mud – they won’t. The TRAIL TALON is very much a dry trail/ mountain shoe that can handle a little sloppy stuff if required.

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Tthe TRAIL TALON has a wide ‘standard fit’ toe boxbut I don’t think it is as wide as the RACE ULTRA?. Don’t get me wrong, it has plenty of room and it allows the toes to move and splay just as in the previous model. When running long your toes have room to move and should you be prone to swelling, they have room to expand. This ‘standard fit’ is something that inov-8 have worked on and by contrast, some shoes in the inov-8 range can be purchased in ‘precision’ fit which offers a tighter and narrower toe box. For me, this can be where some compromise comes in with the TRAIL TALON, when running on long, flat and consistent terrain the shoes excel but if the terrain becomes technical and inconsistent, I find my foot moves a little within the shoe due to the wider fit. This is not a criticism of the shoe, what I am saying is (as I always say) is that it is rare that one shoe can do all things well. For technical running I prefer a precision fit.

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A notable difference is the new POWERFLOW midsole for a more cushioned ride. Both the 250 and 275 feel more cushioned. In particular, the 275 feels super cushioned, almost a little ‘too’ cushioned at times and I think this is where the most notable difference will come for RACE ULTRA fans. You will either prefer the additional cushioning or not. On my first runs in the 275 I noticed the cushioning over the RACE ULTRA. To confirm my thoughts, I went back out for a run in the RACE ULTRA and yes, the new shoe has more cushioning and it feels that way too. This only adds to the thoughts of inov-8 that the TRAIL TALON is a long distance shoe. Of course it’s all relative, the 4mm drop 250 has less cushioning than the 8mm drop 275. For many of you this will not be an issue as you will either run in 4mm or 8mm drop shoes. This is not the case for me, I often and regularly switch between 4mm and 8mm drop shoes. If I am running for 30mins, 60mins or even 2-3 hours I can happily run in 4mm drop and still retain good form. However, if I am going out for a long session or a day in the mountains, I will always go 8mm drop. The higher drop allows more leeway and flexibility and I must add that the TRAIL TALON is a superb shoe to walk in. This is really important for those who are running long or doing multi-day races. Often, shoes are tested just running with no consideration of how the shoe transitions to a change of gait when walking. For me, the TRAIL TALON 275 is one of the best run shoes I have used when walking, the transition is seamless and comfortable no doubt attributable to the ADAPTERFIT met-cradle for better mid-foot comfort.

I am always wary of buzz words like ‘Powerflow’ and ‘Adapterfit’ as in real terms they can mean nothing. Breaking the words down, the TRAIL TALON has more cushioning and better mid-foot comfort.

When running, the feel of the shoe and the comfort level is high. In the 275 I had less ‘feel’ for the ground due to the additional cushioning but this proved a real bonus for longer sessions and when the ground became more irregular. The 250 version with lower drop and less cushioning in comparison to the 8mm drop version felt really sweet on all runs.

Both shoes, 4mm or 8mm drop definitely provided more feel, better cushioning and more ‘return’ when running than the RACE ULTRA.

Like the 290 and 270 RACE ULTRA’s the TRAIL TALON will also incorporate the unique on-the-shoe gaiter attachment so that should you require a Gaiter you can purchase the item separately and attach/ de-attach with ease.

RACEULTRAGAITER

Two huge improvements for me come with the lacing system on the 275 and a gusseted tongue on both the 250 and 275. I have been saying this for ages, but a gusseted tongue just makes sense. I don’t know why it isn’t standard on all run shoes. It helps hold the foot in place, it stops the tongue moving and sliding to the left or right as you run and maybe most importantly it adds an additional protection to stop debris entering the shoe.

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The lacing on the TRAIL TALON is added ‘on to’ the shoe by what effectively is a folded plastic layer. This works so well as it allows the shoes to be laced tightly or loosely as required but it also allows the font to swell within the shoe. In the past, I have had issues with inov-8 lacing and I have had to use a ‘lock lacing’ technique to feel secure in the shoe. Not know, this lacing method works.

Toe protection on the shoe is good but not ridiculous. Keeping in mind the intended use of the shoe, it’s fit for purpose. The heel box is snug, cushioned, holds the foot well and caused no rubbing on long sessions, even when walking.

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Grip is compromised on any muddy trails but then again, the TRAIL TALON is not intended for this type of terrain. The 4mm deep studs work great on all dry trail, rocks and yes road. When wet, the grip is also good. Ultimately, the TRAIL TALON would be a great ‘all-rounder’ for most runs. If you are heading to the fells, a muddy trail run, or mountains with mixed/wet trail then choose a different shoe.

Finally, RACE ULTRA fans are going to be really happy with the TRAIL TALON. I have found it difficult to really find any negatives. The only negative (and it’s not really a negative) is that some of you may find the new incarnation a little ‘too’ cushioned. Sizing is true to size and relates directly to the Race Ultra.

As per usual, inov-8 have created two ‘visually’ appealing shoes with great colours and styling.

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Drop is personal and for me, 8mm drop is the sweet spot in run shoes and is my ‘go to’ drop for any run. If you prefer a lower drop, then you will be happy with the 250 and 4mm version. If you can afford two pairs of shoes, I really recommend the 250 for shorter and/ or faster runs.

This TRAIL TALON is a winner and is now one of three shoes that I choose on a daily basis, the other two shoes for comparison are The North Face Ultra Endurance and the Scott Kinabalu Supertrac.

Specs from inov-8

DFB

The patented Dynamic Fascia Band™ (DFB) mimics the ‘Windlass Effect’ delivering a kick of energy with each step, helping the athlete to move faster and more efficiently

STANDARD FIT 

Our standard fit offers a close-fitting heel that locks the shoe in position, while a wider toe box allows the toes to splay when running naturally or lifting weights. Standard fit suits those with wider feet and athletes using the product for long sessions.

ARROW 

Arrows refer to drop, 1 arrow = 4mm, 2 arrow – 8mm

Northern Traverse 2016 – Day 1 Summary

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St Bees on the west coast of the UK witnessed the start of the 2016 Northern Traverse – a 190km route that crosses the north of England through three National Parks finishing in Robin Hood’s Bay on the east coast. Taking in iconic mountains, valleys, moors and over 16,000 feet of ascent, the Northern Traverse is a truly spectacular and challenging event.

Starting 1000 today, the race has now been going for 12-hours and pre-reace favourite and SPINE winner, Eoin Keith is charging away into the night. It’s been an incredible first day with wall-to-wall sunshine.

As darkness envelopes the fells, it’s head-torch time or sleep time. However, you can follow ‘live’ on trackers and watch the action unfold HERE.

Here are a selection of images from day 1 primary the start in St Bees, Ennerdale, Honister Pass and Patterdale.

More images and updates tomorrow.

Race website http://www.northerntraverse.com

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Tips for the TRAIL – Shoe Choice

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Following on from Marc Laithwaites’ series of articles (HERE) that covered many aspects of our sport (butter in coffee? Posture? Hydration?) we now have series of articles on ‘Tips for the TRAIL’ –  from Marc and Ian.

TRAIL Tips 1: Choose the Shoes

We get a lot of questions about footwear for trail running. There is no single pair of shoes which will be suitable for every race. Fact! You may have to compromise grip for cushioning, or cushioning for grip and your shoe selection will be based various factors such as the following:

  1. The kind of terrain you are running or racing on.
  2. The distance you are racing and the time on feet.
  3. Your running style.
  4. Risks to injury
  5. What drop?
  6. Minimal or maximal?

Here’s our simple guide to selecting shoes:

1. Shoes can generally be split into ‘TRAIL’ or ‘FELL/MOUNTAIN’. Trail shoes tend to have more cushioning and are designed for hard packed trails such as canal towpath and forest track. Fell/Mountain shoes tend to have less cushioning but a more aggressive grip and are more suited to muddy tracks or running ‘off the paths’ on rough terrain. Wearing Fell/Mountain shoes could potentially cause problems on hard packed tracks due to the repeated impact and Trail shoes for example could potentially have insufficient grip and stability for severe ‘off track’ running.

2. Stability (how likely are you to twist your ankle) is better in Fell/Mountain shoes as they are lower to the ground (less cushioning), thereby improving balance, control and feel. However, Trail shoes don’t always need the same level of stability and control as a fell shoe  as hard pack tracks and trails provide a more even and predictable surface than rocky, ‘off track’ routes.

3. Minimalist or ‘barefoot’ shoes have been popular in recent years, due largely to the book ‘Born to Run’. There is a current shift by shoe manufacturers away from the minimalist trend, towards over-cushioning. Minimalist shoes were popular as a means of encouraging runners to land on their forefoot, rather than their heel. But think carefully before going to an ‘over’ cushioned shoe or a minimalist shoe! This article may add perspective HERE.

4. You don’t need to buy ‘minimalist’ shoes to encourage forefoot running. Forefoot running may well be natural for you but a shoes ‘drop’ will encourage and promote a running style. The drop is the difference between the thickness of the heel and the thickness of the forefoot. For example, if the heel cushioning is 12mm thick and the forefoot 8mm  thick, the drop is 4mm. The lower the drop and the more likely you are to run on the forefoot. The higher the drop, the more likely you are to heel strike. It’s not the amount of cushioning (minimal or maximal) which dictates forefoot or heel strike, it’s the difference between heel and forefoot. But be careful, don’t fall in to the trap of thinking low drop is best just because you see so many elite runners using this type of shoe. If in doubt, go for a 8mm drop shoe which sits nicely in the middle ground.

5. The current trend for over-cushioned shoes can include the ‘rocker system’. This encourages heel striking and a smooth roll onto the forefoot, rather than a harsh braking normally associated with heel striking.

6. Road shoes (and some trail/ mountain shoes) tend to fall into 2 distinct categories: Neutral V Support. People who pronate (roll in) excessively wear support and those who don’t wear neutral. Trail and Fell shoes tend not to come in both options, almost all are neutral and there are very few support options (but some do exist, the Salomon Seedcross a good example). If you are running over uneven terrain, your ankle position is rarely neutral, it’s only when you are repeatedly running on hard/flat surfaces (road or treadmill) that you can control your foot by choosing support or neutral shoes.

So when you head off to the store to purchase a pair of run shoes for off road, ask yourself some key questions.

  1. What terrain will I be running on?
  2. Do I require good cushioning or less cushioning?
  3. What drop do I want (zero, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12 are standard) ?
  4. Do I require a ‘precision’ fit in the toe box which provides more control or do I require a roomy toe box?
  5. How far am I going to be running in these shoes?
  6. Do I require any stability and support?

Remember, no one shoe will do all things well. That is why so many different shoes exist on the market. However, we don’t all have an unlimited budget. So in many scenarios, we often look for a one shoe fix. Some shoes are out there that do fit that ‘one shoe does all scenario,’ you just have to remember that usually when the trail gets very wet, very muddy or very technical, this is when the biggest compromise is made.

You only need to look at the recent ‘City Trail’ shoes or ‘Door to Trail’ shoes that are available and it doesn’t take long to realise that manufacturers also want to help you with that magic one shoe does all.

This website has many shoe reviews and here is a few of our most recent favourites:

  1. Salomon S-Lab 4 SG HERE
  2. Salomon S-Lab 4 HERE
  3. Salomon Sense Mantra 3 HERE
  4. The North Face HERE
  5. Scott Supertrac HERE
  6. Scott Trail Rocket HERE
  7. Montrail HERE
  8. inov-8 212 HERE
  9. inov-8 Terraclaw HERE
  10. inov-8 Baregrip 200 HERE

The Berghaus Dragons Back Race Day 5 2015 – The back is broken

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‘So what a week, what a journey, impossible to explain how tough, how mentally and physically challenging it was but also how spiritual it has been. Cut off from the world, no social media, no showers, just living in the wild with a group of equal enthusiasts.’ – Mike Evans

It’s over! The Berghaus Dragons Back has been broken. Mike Evans sums it up above, how do you compress the highs and lows of an incredible hard 5 days. For the tough and tireless 66 who completed the full race, the emotion (or lack of) was poignant in Carreg Cennen Castle. For some, it was just too much. I can understand it, 5 days of exhaustion, fatigue and stress and finally it’s over. The simple crossing of a line and a final ‘dib in’ and it was job done.

Some smiled, some laughed, some looked bemused at the assembled group who clapped and cheered; it was all too much and a lack of words summed up the the journey undertaken more than loud chants of yee-ha!

This select and hardy few may well have broken the back of the Dragon but it had been a a touch and go affair for all. Even race winner, Jim Mann said on the final finish line:

‘Dense cloud, rain, cold, difficult navigation, I could have done without that today!’

But slay the Dragon they did and at the evening awards ceremony, race director Shane Ohly summed it up very well:

‘It seems wrong that I have to countdown the finishers from 66 – 1 as it emphasises the top of the field and places a priority on them when in reality, everyone here is a hero.’

The racing and the finish line was full of stories. As you would expect, every single finisher (and non-finisher) had a very unique story to tell. Old to young, these stories will be discussed in time to come and as time passes, more will be revealed. For now, the journey is too raw, too sensitive, the enormity too big to understand. I said during the race that lives would be changed as the race progressed through Wales. I witnessed at first hand how the weak became strong and the strong became weak. It’s the nature of the event. It’s meant to be tough and those who didn’t complete this time, for whatever reason, will learn and I am sure will be back in 2017 for the next edition.

The final day was not without drama. A wet day, conditions proved to be very tough and post race many commented on how difficult the navigation had been in the white out conditions, driving rain and strong winds. It’s somewhat ironic that as Pavel Paloncy crossed the line first, the sun and dry weather followed him and all assembled were treated to a warm and sunny afternoon with incredible views. Paloncy would almost certainly have been a contender for a podium place had he not taken a bad fall on day 1 resulting in hospital treatment.

Mann will of course be remembered as the Dragon Slayer of 2015 but notably it was the year of the ladies with Paris, Pascall and Wraith featuring in the top 10 throughout the race and all 3 of them placing in the top 6 – Paris 2nd, Pascall 4th and Wraith 6th. Just like in the original race when Helene Whitaker showed the men a thing or two, 2015 had all the potential for a repeat performance and this was something Ohly touched on at the awards:

‘Despite the so called ‘advantages’ men have, ladies once again triumphed at the Dragons Back Race and I think that it is brilliant. All 3 ladies raced incredibly well and Paris had all the potential to win the race outright.’

Father and son team Glenn and Huw Davies in many ways provided me with a raw insight into the race. Having lost my father way too young I watched this duo battle the terrain as one. Joined together from beginning to end they witnessed each others highs and lows in a way that is beyond comprehension. Ever day I looked at them, envious of the time they were having together. What they shared is beyond special and I can only wish that I had had that opportunity in my life. When they finished in the castle it was a whirl of emotion for the duo; it all proved too much for young Huw (just 22), ‘I am real proud of my dad!’

It’s funny, all assembled, big to small, old to young suddenly got something in their eyes… maybe it was the wind or the midgies?

Joe Faulkner, legend that he is completed the very first Dragons Back Race and in 2012 he came back for more. Completing the 2015 event makes him quite the unique individual. He is the only person ever to complete all 3 Dragon Back Races. Wow! As a just reward, Ohly offered a tribute to Faulkner at the awards ceremony and acknowledged how instrumental he had been in Ohly’s own rise and development in the sport. As a nod of recognition, Ohly asked Faulkner to offer the awards to male and female winners; Jasmine Paris and Jim Mann.

Beer was flowing, spirits were high and as Paris and Mann sat down with awards in hand, the 2015 Berghaus Dragons Back race came to a close.

I can’t help but think there a great deal of runners (and marshals) today sitting, looking around and thinking, ‘What next?’ Races are like that, they make you, they break you, they inspire you and they take you to the lowest of the low and highest of the high. Plans are being made. What’s next?

It may very well be a new adventure, a new challenge, another race, maybe even recovery  but I know one thing,  all those who toed the line in the north of Wales a week a go will now be thinking of 2017 and contemplating coming back for more.

Like a Phoenix, the Dragon will rise from the ashes of 2015 and return in 2017.

Just one last question:

Can you tame the Dragon?

http://www.dragonsbackrace.com

Full results HERE

It’s extremely important to acknowledge the tireless help and devotion of all the volunteer marshals, kitchen staff and crew that made this race happen. They had their own ultra to undertake and events like this could not happen without them. In addition, sponsors provide an aid that facilitates the day-to-day functioning and feasibility of a race like this. Ohly pointed out his appreciation for Berghaus as a main sponsor, ‘Without them this event could not happen!’

dragons-back-race

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The Berghaus Dragons Back Race Day 5 2015 – Meet the Runners

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“Remember this day, for it will be yours for all time!” – King Leonidas

Today, 80 runners departed the final Berghaus Dragons Back Race 2015 start line. Battle scarred, they once again face another gruelling day; 56.5km and 2300m of vertical gain.

But who are these brave souls?

Take a look, 4 days of pain engrained on each face. It takes a special person to enter the Berghaus Dragons Back Race but it takes an extra special person to finish.

This race has thrown everything at the runners and in general, weather conditions have been good. Yes they have had rain, mist, clag and occasional strong winds but there has been no disaster days of torrential rain or storms.

It has been an inspiration to share the journey of so many and to document it. We look on in awe at the front of the race and how Jim Mann and Jasmin Paris (and others) can run so fast and effortlessly over such tough and challenging terrain. But Jezz Bragg summed it up for me at the end of day 3 when runners finished well into the night only to get a few hours sleep and then get up and do it all again:

‘These guys are the heroes. They are out all day from 6am, marching on and then they finish at 11pm. They have no rest, no recuperation, no time to eat properly, hydrate and just manage themselves; I couldn’t do it!’

Just last night, the last official runner completed the course in just a few minutes under 11 hours. He was told:

‘You need to start at 6am in the morning so that you have a fighting chance to make the afternoon cut off and complete the race.’

Without hesitation or grumble, they say ‘OK!’ and off they go.

It was never meant to be easy

I can confirm 100% that this race has not been easy, I would actually go as far as saying that this has been one of the toughest races I have worked on. It has been special.

As today draws to a close, the faces below will arrive at Carreg Cennen Castle having run the Dragons Back of Wales. I am looking forward to welcoming each and everyone of them at what will have been a life changing journey.

Episode 84 – Hawker Canaday Kimball

Ep84

Episode 84 of Talk Ultra has an interview with Sage Canaday talking about coaching and training, Lizzy Hawker tells us all about her new book and Nikki Kimball talks TCC, fell running, her new film and racing in South Africa. Talk Training, the News, Up and Coming Races and Speedgoat.
00:13:48 NEWS
 
Barkley
Fair play to Jamil Coury but nobody finished….
Chuckanut 50k
David Laney 3:40
Andrew Benford 3:40
Brett Hornig 3:35
Magdalena Boulet 4:13
Catrin Jones 4:25
Cassie Scallon 4:29
 
Gorge Waterfalls
Justin Houck 9:22 CR
Chris Denucci 9:49
Ben Stern 9:59
Michele Yates 11:03 CR
Joell Vaught 11:10
Olga Nevtrinos 11:20
Ryan Sandes sets FKT on Table Mountain and Red Bull sets up a website to see if you can beat it…
Kilian tells us about his 2015 plans as does Timmy Olson
 
Sage Canaday going to run UTMB
 
Marathon des Sables kicks off…. Preview HERE
00:35:18 INTERVIEW
 
SAGE CANADY provides us with an insight into his coaching and training ethos and how he applies them to his own racing HERE
01:29:00 BLOG
 
What goes in the MDS pack? Read HERE
01:30:55 INTERVIEW
 
LIZZY HAWKER has been away from the running scene with injury. However, she has used the time wisely writing a book called RUNNER. We catch up with her, discuss the book and you have an opportunity to win one of two copies.
WIN A COPY OF THE BOOK HERE
Purchase the book HERE
 
02:16:03 TALK TRAINING
Marc Laithwaite talks all about race pacing. Read the blog post HERE
02:44:50 INTERVIEW
 
NIKKI KIMBALL talks about The Coastal Challenge, her new film, fell racing and heading to South Africa
Finding Traction movie HERE
03:31:20 UP & COMING RACES

Argentina

Patagonia Run 100k | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Patagonia Run 63k | 63 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Patagonia Run 84k | 84 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Australia

Australian Capital Territory

Australian Running Festival Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Queensland

Wildhorse Criterium 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2015 | website

Wildhorse Criterium 70 km | 70 kilometers | April 05, 2015 | website

Victoria

Buffalo Stampede Ultra SkyMarathon | 75 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Western Australia

3 Waters 50km Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Canada

British Columbia

Diez Vista 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Chile

Ultra Fiord 100K | 100 kilometers | April 17, 2015 | website

Ultra Fiord 100M | 100 miles | April 16, 2015 | website

Ultra Fiord 70K | 70 kilometers | April 17, 2015 | website

Croatia

100 Miles of Istria | 100 miles | April 17, 2015 | website

France

Bouches-du-Rhône

Trail Sainte Victoire 60 km | 60 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Haute-Loire

L’Ultra trace de St Jacques | 740 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Jura

Le Savagnin | 58 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Rhône

Ultra Beaujolais Villages Trail | 110 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Germany

Hesse

Bilstein-Marathon BiMa 53+ | 53 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Guadeloupe

GUADARUN : ultra-marathon des îles de Guadeloupe | 136 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

Indonesia

Trans Sumbawa 200 Miles | 200 miles | April 08, 2015 | website

Ireland

Connacht

Connemara Ultramarathon | 39 miles | April 12, 2015 | website

Israel

Race the Promised Land Ultra | 124 kilometers | April 16, 2015 | website

The Sea to Jerusalem 144 km Ultra | 144 kilometers | April 16, 2015 | website

The Sea to Jerusalem 54 Ultra | 54 kilometers | April 16, 2015 | website

The Sea to Jerusalem 70 km Ultra | 70 kilometers | April 17, 2015 | website

Italy

Latium

UltraTrail dei Monti Cimini | 80 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Piedmont

100 km di Torino | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Tuscany

Elba Trail “Eleonoraxvincere” | 54 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Jordan

Dead Sea Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 03, 2015 | website

Morocco

Ecotrail de Ouarzazate | 111 kilometers | April 16, 2015 | website

Marathon des Sables | 250 kilometers | April 03, 2015 | website

Nepal

Annapurna Mandala Trail | 250 kilometers | April 15, 2015 | website

Buddhist Stupa Trail Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

Netherlands

North Holland

Castricum Ultraloop | 60 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

De Zestig van Texel – 120 km | 120 kilometers | April 06, 2015 | website

De Zestig van Texel – 60 km | 60 kilometers | April 06, 2015 | website

Norway

Bergen Maratonkarusellen no3 – 1 1/2 Marathon | 63 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Bergen Maratonkarusellen no3 – Ultra 100km | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Philippines

Mayon 360º | 80 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Portugal

Madeira Island Ultra Trail 115 | 116 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Madeira Island Ultra Trail 85 | 85 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

South Africa

Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon | 56 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

Spain

Catalonia

24 hores del Cap de Creus | 87 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Extremadura

LXVII Milhas Romanas | 100 kilometers | April 10, 2015 | website

United Kingdom

Calderdale

The Calderdale Hike – Long | 36 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Carmarthenshire

Pendine Sands Ultra | 32 miles | April 05, 2015 | website

Devon

Coastal Trail Series – Exmoor – Ultra | 34 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Dorset

The ONER | 78 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

The ONER Half Day Section | 39 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

East Sussex

South Downs Way 50 | 50 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Glasgow City

Glasgow – Edinburgh Double Marathon | 55 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Hampshire

Compton 40 mile Challenge | 40 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Highland

2XU Jogle | 860 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Surrey

North Downs Way 50 | 50 miles | April 05, 2015 | website

USA

Arizona

Solemates Prescott Circle Trail 100 Miler | 104 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Solemates Prescott Circle Trail 150 Miler | 156 miles | April 09, 2015 | website

Solemates Prescott Circle Trail 200 Miler | 208 miles | April 09, 2015 | website

Solemates Prescott Circle Trail 50 Miler | 52 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

California

American River 50-mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Grizzly Peak 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

Lake Sonoma 50 | 50 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Oriflamme 50k | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Ragnar Relay So Cal | 200 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Woodside Crossover 50K | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Florida

Croom Trail 50K Fools Run | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

Croom Trail 50M Fools Run | 50 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Wild Sebastian 100 Spring Edition – 100 Miles | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Wild Sebastian 100 Spring Edition – 50 Miles | 50 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Wild Sebastian 100 Spring Edition – 75 Miles | 75 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Illinois

Potawatomi 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Potawatomi 150 Mile Trail Run | 150 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Potawatomi 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Indiana

2 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

3 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

4 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

5 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

6 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

7 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

8 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Iowa

Hawkeye 50k | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Kansas

Rocking K Trail 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Louisiana

LUR’s Sleepy 50K | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Massachusetts

Cape Cod Trail Race – Run Forward. Give Back – Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Michigan

Kal-Haven Trail Run | 33 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Minnesota

Zumbro 100k | 100 kilometers | April 10, 2015 | website

Zumbro 100M | 100 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Zumbro Midnight 50 Mile | 50 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Mississippi

Gulf Coast Interstate Relay – Ride or Run | 263 miles | April 03, 2015 | website

Race Across Mississippi – Border to Border (7 Marathons) | 192 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Missouri

Ozark Foothills 50K | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Nebraska

Double Half Mary+5 | 50 kilometers | April 10, 2015 | website

New York

100 Mile PEACE Ultra Marathon | 100 miles | April 17, 2015 | website

North Carolina

Cedar Island 40 | 42 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Ohio

Forget the PR Mohican 50K | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Oklahoma

Tatur’s Lake McMurty Trail Race 50K | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Oregon

Peterson Ridge Rumble 40 Mile Trail Run | 40 miles | April 12, 2015 | website

Shotgun Trail Blast 50K | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

South Carolina

Blind Pig 100K Ultra Marathon | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Blind Pig 100 Mile Ultra Marathon | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Tennessee

Power to the Tower 50k Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

War at Windrock – 3 stages race | 51 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Texas

Hells Hills 50 km Endurance Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

Hells Hills 50 Mile Endurance Trail Run | 50 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Utah

Zion 100k | 100 kilometers | April 10, 2015 | website

Zion 100 Mile | 100 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Zion 50K | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Virginia

Bull Run Run 50 Mile | 50 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Washington

Alger Alp 50k | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Lumberjack 100 K Run | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Lumberjack 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Lumberjack 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Squak Mountain 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Wisconsin

Mad City 100K | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Mad City 50K | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Zimbabwe

33 Miler | 33 miles | April 12, 2015 | website

33 Miler Relay | 33 miles | April 12, 2015 | website

03:35:32 CLOSE
03:41:11
LINKS:

Glen Coe Skyline™ – Skyrunning comes to Scotland

Glencoe-Skyline

Skyrunning will be coming to Scotland in 2015 with a world-class course based around Glen Coe. Aptly named the ‘Glen Coe Skyline™’ this race has already caused a storm of speculation as rumours of its launch swept through the mountain running community earlier this year.

The provisional route starts at the Glencoe Mountain Resort and, via the West Highland Way, reaches and ascends Buachaille. A full traverse of Bidean nam Bian ensues before dropping down into Glen Coe to then climb up to Sgorr nam Fiannaidh. There is then an extended traverse of the entire Aonach Eagach ridge, before rejoining the West Highland Way and descending into Glen Coe Pass via the Devil’s Staircase and returning to Glencoe Mountain Resort. The provisional route statistics are approximately 45km with 4500m of ascent.

As many experienced hill walkers and climbers have pointed out, this route covers some of the most challenging mountain terrain in the UK with long sections of exposed and serious Moderate standard rock climbing. 

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Shane Ohly

Race Director Shane Ohly explained:

 “I am not trying to create another fell or trail race, but bring to the UK World class Skyrunning and a course that has World class challenges. It is not meant to be easy, and a course of this caliber has inherent risk. We are not creating another mass participation running event, rather, a world-class course for experienced and competent participants. The Glen Coe Skyline™ is a fusion of mountain running and alpinism where competitors need to be skilled at both disciplines to negotiate the course.” 

Indeed, there has been a hotly debated forum thread about the Glen Coe Skyline™ on the popular UKClimbing / UKHillWalking website, and in response, Ohly has provided a detailed Q&A about the race, which is available HERE.

http://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=7189

Leading British Skyrunners were quick to endorse the route with Tom Owens from the Salomon International Team saying,

 “Wow – This will be a seriously brilliant and challenging route,” whilst teammate Any Symonds said, “Excellent! Glen Coe Skyline. Couldn’t get much of a better setting and route for a Sky Race in the UK.”

Ohly continued, “The Glen Coe Skyline™ follows in the finest tradition of the most prestigious Skyrunning races and competing on such challenging and technical terrain is not without precedent.” 

For an event that has not even happened, the Glen Coe Skyline™ is already one the most talked about races on the UK calendar and it is clearly challenging many observers’ perceptions of what mountain running is.

Ian Corless from Skyrunning UK provided further context to the race, “The UK may lack high mountains but we have unique terrain and what we lack in altitude can be compensated for with challenging routes as we have seen at the V3K and the Mourne Skyline MTR. The Glen Coe Skyline™ however takes Skyrunning UK to the next level! Having experienced the iconic Trofeo Kimain Italy in 2012 and 2014, I was inspired to extend that experience to a UK and worldwide audience but on UK soil. Shane Ohly and his team have put my dream into reality. The Glen CoeSkyline™ will arguably be the toughest race in the UK and takes it inspiration from the Skyrunner World Series races such as the Dolomites, Zegama-Aizkorri and Tromso SkyRace’s®. The Glen Coe Skyline™ will not be for everyone though; it is a challenging race over a tough and technical course. It harks back to Marino Giacometti’s vision of Skyrunning that was created on the slopes of Monte Rosa in the late 80’s.” 

The organisers have been careful to consider the impact the race may have on other recreational users of Glen Coe and have been working with the National Trust for Scotland who are the major landowner.

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Gary Tompsett

Rebecca Amiel, Individual Giving Manager, from the National Trust for Scotland said “We are delighted to be involved in Scotland’s first skyrunning event at Glencoe.  We look forward to welcoming participants who may never have visited Glencoe to take in its beauty as they complete this challenging event. The National Trust for Scotland is Scotland’s largest conservation charity and relies on membership and donations to care for these wonderful places.  The magnificent landscape of Glencoe is loved by so many, yet cared for by so few which is why it’s so important to raise the profile of our conservation work. Find out more about the Footpath Fund and mountain conservation at www.footpathfund.org.uk

Ohly added, “Each year Ourea Events™ (the company organising the Glen Coe Skyline™) donates 1% of its total income to charitable environmental organisations at the forefront of the protection of the mountain environment. The business has been a member of 1% of the Planet since day one because, whilst we always seek to mitigate our environmental impact, we understand that we do still have some form of impact, but our policies over the years have given some very attributable payback”.

OureaEventsLogo(500x500-cropped) copy

Entries will open at 9pm on Monday 13th April 2015

 

For further Information about:

Ourea Events visit www.OureaEvents.com or contact Shane Ohly on 07771516962 or ShaneOhly@OureaEvents.com

Glen Coe Skyline visit www.GlenCoeSkyline.com

SkyrunningUK visit http://skyrunninguk.com or contact Ian Corless on 07725813457 or iancorless@mac.com

 

Key Event Information

Website: www.GlenCoeSkyline.com

Date: Saturday 22nd August 2015

Venue: Glencoe Mountain Resort, Scotland

Entries Open: Monday 13th April 2015

Courses: 45km with 4,500m ascent (TBC)

A Day on Fells – Wolf’s Pit, Peak District

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A fun weekend in Sheffield for ShAFF (Sheffield Adventure Film Festival) and the opportunity to take American ultra running legend, Nikki Kimball to experience a fell race.

It was a blast. I had so much fun… a course like this for 100-miles would be great! – Nikki Kimball

Well, I am not sure that anyone else in the race would fancy running the route eighteen times to make up the required 160-km but hey, we know what Nikki means (I think!).

The Peak District played ball and the sun came out. Great day!

Wolf’s Pit, Peak District

  • Date & time: Sun 22nd Mar 2015 at 11:00
  • Country: England
  • Region: Peak District
  • Category: AS
  • Website: www.wolfspitfellrace.org.uk
  • Distance: 9km / 5.6m
  • Climb: 450m / 1476ft
  • Venue: Shatton, nr Bamford, Hope Valley.
  • Grid ref: 196825
  • Skills & experience: ER, PM, LK, NS
  • Minimum age: 16